Icky Woods and William “The Refrigerator” Perry. The Jamaican Bobsled team. Eddie The Eagle. Those characters who ascend to great heights not just because of their athletic willingness to be successful, but because we see something very human in them; something that tells u that if they can do it and have fun, maybe we can do it at some point too. They may not be the biggest or the fastest or the sleekest, but they have that something that makes them special at a certain point in time.
Now we have Bartolo Colon. Always a successful pitcher and great teammate, the 42 year old, soon to be 43 year old New York Mets pitcher, who many thought his career was over a few years back, has not had just a renaissance of success, he has done it with a casual flair that is quickly capturing baseball in the biggest market possible. Not only that, but he is doing it as a pitcher on a team of rising pitching stars, and is doing it ways that almost every time out endear himself to an audience that is growing, and loves the everyman in Colon that some knew but few had experienced. The ;attest in the ever-growing chapter came Saturday night, when he hit his first career home run, and like an unknowing youngster rounding the bases, carried the bat almost to first as the ball exited Petco park in San Diego. It was a moment on Mother’s Day weekend that reminded fans of how much fun, and how unpredictable sport can be.
So now that the Colon mystique has built itself into “Big Sexy” t-shirts, record card sales and scores of adoring fans of all ages, what is next for the former Cy Young Award winner? Is he a good brand fit for some quick deals? Let’s see.
He is multilingual and appeals to the biggest growing segment of the audience for MLB; the Latino fan base. He is a medical marvel, having overcome a series of injuries to bounce back to amazing pitching form. He is playing in the biggest market for sport, and doing it successfully. He has a multigenerational appeal, endearing himself to baseball diehards and young people alike. He is a master of the comeback, having resurrected his career at a time when many had passed on him. He has played on teams across the country and always measured up to fan appeal, giving him a wide swath of followers wherever the Mets go. And he has captured the attention of a national media audience with his seemingly endless string of success for New York this year.
Is it enough for a brand or two to take a flyer on him? Well there is certainly no way to measure how ling success will stay with Colon, or if he will be overshadowed by his fast-rising and very telegenic teammates on the mound. There is also no real signs that Bartolo wants to make the investment into growing his brand at this stage of his career. It takes time, and time is probably not on his side. However, Colon, by all accounts a model teammate, probably does deserve a look, even for some smaller brands looking for a lighthearted splash. If they are nimble, creative and can appeal to a wide group of consumers, the moment is there for the taking. Media demand has shown he is noteworthy and now appeals to fans across the board. The Mets are also in it for the long haul again this season, and with warmer weather and brighter days ahead, Gotham’s surprising hero of the pitching rubber could still be a marketing darling in multiple languages. A fun story continues to grow, and a great personality awaits what could be a fun, lucrative and large stage, even as the sun sets on what has become a great second act.